JUNE 14, 2007
The New Orleans, Louisiana, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has denounced the recent bribery indictment of corrupt Louisiana Congressmen William Jefferson as the work of a Republican White House and Justice Department scheming to target black Democratic leaders.
The veteran lawmaker, who was caught with a $90,000 cash bribe in his freezer, was indicted by a grand jury for receiving more than half a million dollars in bribes from a Nigerian telecommunications company seeking contracts. A 16-count indictment charges the nine-term Representative with bribery, racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice and outlines how he used his influence on a powerful House Africa Trade Caucus to help his cronies.
Besides FBI surveillance tapes that capture Jefferson taking cash bribes and the money stashed in aluminum foil in the freezer of his Virginia home, a lot of key evidence against the legislator has come from his own top associates who have struck plea bargains with prosecutors in exchange for their cooperation.
One is Brett Pfeffer, a former congressional aide who admitted soliciting bribes on Jefferson’s behalf and the other is a telecommunications executive (Vernon Jackson) who pleaded guilty to paying Jefferson about $1 million in exchange for the lawmaker’s assistance securing deals in various African nations.
Despite all the incriminating evidence against Jefferson – including information seized during a raid of his Capitol Hill office–his supporters held a public rally in New Orleans accusing federal prosecutors of being racist and picking on Jefferson to shift attention from the legal troubles of Republican congressmen.
The president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP demanded justice and helped lead the pep rally, which also featured a prominent black reverend who compared the disgraced Congressman to a pair of renowned civil rights leaders. “When it’s all over, Bill Jefferson will stand up like Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. He will stand up in the South and he will be victorious.”
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